Chicago prosecutor blocked justice for a year
No child should fall victim to violence at the hands of those sworn to protect them. Last week, Chicago government officials finally released the graphic video of Police Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.
After a year of sitting on concrete video evidence, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has charged Chicago Officer Van Dyke with 1st degree murder.
Why did it take so long?
For a long time, police said it was "self-defense." They claimed that Laquan "lunged" at the police with a small knife and then closed the case, making no mention of video evidence. Thanks to a whistle blower in the city government and to the graphic video, we now know that the police's story of Laquan's killing was a total lie. The graphic video shows Laquan walking up a street and moving out of the way when Office Van Dyke and his partner jump out of their police car. Within seconds, Officer Van Dyke fires two shoots as Laquan is walking away, causing Laquan to fall to the ground.
As the teen lay in a fetal position, Officer Van Dyke fired another 14 fatal shoots. The next day, police deleted 86 minutes worth of footage from a nearby Burger King that caught the killing on camera.
For over a year, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez didn't indict Officer Van Dyke until she knew that (due to a journalist suing the department to make the footage public and a judge ruling in favor) the video would be released to the public and her political career would be threatened if she didn't act.
Cases like this demonstrate why having a special prosecutor is critical. Studies show that when officers kill they are almost never held accountable because of an inherent conflict of interest that arises whenever local prosecutors investigate the police officers they work with every day. And the chances of prosecution are lower when the victim is Black.
The policing problem in Chicago runs much deeper than the tragic murder of Laquan McDonald, making the call for a special prosecutor even more urgent: The New Yorker recently reported, "Last March, after a seven-year legal battle, waged by Futterman, Kalven, and two Chicago law firms—Loevy & Loevy and the People’s Law Office—to obtain records of police officers who had accumulated repeated citizen complaints, an Illinois appeals-court judge ordered the records released. They show that, of nearly twenty-nine thousand allegations of [police] misconduct filed between 2011 and 2015, only two percent resulted in any discipline—and, of those which did, the vast majority took the form of reprimands or suspensions of less than a week. Moreover, while African-Americans filed most of the complaints, those lodged by whites were more likely to be upheld.”
*Click here to join the call for Prosecutor Alvarez to resign and for a special prosecutor in Chicago! action.momsrising.org/sign/tell-anita-alvarez-resign/?source=blog
According to the investigative journalists who broke news of the video, “at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded [to Laquan’s killing] by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.”
Furthermore, Prosecutor Alvarez is yet to charge any of the other officers or police leadership that helped cover-up Laquan's killing. How can we trust a prosecutor who protected Officer Van Dyke for a year knowing that he murdered a teenager?
This isn’t the first time that State's Attorney Alvarez has been completely ineffective in prosecuting police who kill civilians. In April, Prosecutor Alvarez tanked the case against Chicago Police Officer Dante Servin for fatally shooting unarmed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd in the back of the head.
The lack of justice for police violence victims in Chicago demands that we re-evaluate the city leadership.
*Click here to call for Prosecutor Alvarez to resign and for a special prosecutor in Chicago now! http://action.momsrising.org/sign/tell-anita-alvarez-resign/?source=blog
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